genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

WILLIAM W. ANDERSON, whose name is intimately connected with every interest tending to advance the financial, social or moral condition of the community in which he lives, whose personality is closely interwoven with local affairs, and whose counsel has in many respects shaped the course of events in Christian County, is President of the First National Bank of Taylorville and is a prominent figure in many other business enterprises; besides which he is closely identified with public affairs and every enterprise calculated to promote the general welfare. A man of high character, his thousands of warm personal friends will find pleasure in close inspection of the excellent steel engraving of him found in this volume. The pleasant expression of countenance is faithfully reproduced in most artistic lines, and the indication of years of development, of the generous manhood, and of the warmth of friendship and love of right-dealing and justice that have endeared him to every resident of Christian County, are all found preserved in such delicate and yet permanent form that lapse of time cannot efface them.

The Anderson family is of Scotch-Irish origin, and was established in the South, probably in Virginia, in early Colonial days. It is known that both the paternal and maternal grandfathers of William W. were soldiers during the memorable struggle for the independence of the Colonies, and that his father, George H. Anderson, served under Gen. Jackson in the later conflict with Great Britain and was present at the battle of New Orleans. He was married in Tennessee, not many years after the return of peace, to Miss Nancy Mann. They soon after migrated to Henderson County, Ky., where they resided for ten years, and where our subject was born October 27, 1825. When he was a lad of five years, the family came to Illinois, and settled two miles east of Hillsboro, Montgomery County. There George Anderson reared his family, developed a comfortable home, and acted his part in the growth of the new country. He was honored by the most responsible local offices of the time, being a man of varied experience, well read for his time, and he is remembered by the pioneers as a man of generous impulses and strong character. He died at the age of sixty-one. His widow, a woman whose impress was early stamped upon the minds of her children, survived her husband about twelve years.

Their family numbered twelve children, of whom William is the sixth in order of birth, and one of four yet living, all residing in this county. The days of his boyhood were noted for their meagre privileges for education, and what education he received was in one of the first log schoolhouses built in Montgomery County. The demands of the farm were such that he was required to assist in the labors of the field when but a lad of nine, and his attention was almost constantly given to home duties until he had reached his seventeenth year. He then entered the employ of Judge Hiram Rountree, of Hillsboro. He remained in the employ of Judge Rountree for eight years, first working on the farm, then in the store, and assisting in his office while he was Circuit Clerk of Montgomery County. He was married to Miss Nan B. Rountree, a daughter of Judge Rountree, in August, 1850.

The following year they came to Christian County, and Mr. Anderson assumed charge of a farm four miles east of Taylorville. The farm did not satisfy his nature, as his tastes led in the direction of mercantile life, he being educated in that direction while in the store of the Judge in Hillsboro. Accordingly, after three years, when harvests were not sufficiently abundant to satisfy his business sense, he left the farm, removing to Taylorville, and we soon find him installed as a salesman in the dry-goods store of Shumway & Cheney. Mr. Cheney died in January, 1854, and his brother-in-law, Albert Sattley, whose figure is still a familiar one on the streets of Taylorville, succeeded to the Cheney interest, and he in turn was succeeded by Mr. Anderson. The firm of Shumway & Anderson continued for about two years, when Mr. Anderson became sole proprietor of the constantly increasing business. He carried an extensive stock of goods, ranging from threshing machines to the most delicate dress fabrics, as demanded by the trade of the day. The financial depression of 1857, the worst in American history, coming so soon after his embarkation upon the seas of mercantile life, was a test of business ability that gave him ample opportunity for meeting the many demands incident to hard times. By judicious selection of goods, untiring attention to delinquents, and universal courtesy to patrons, he succeeded in passing through that trying period, and his success was ample proof of his business ability. Henceforth he was considered by all one of the cleverest and most successful merchants of the county. During the succeeding decade his business assumed immense proportions, and his standing, not only among his friends at home, but among the large wholesale houses, was such that it was possible for him to conduct much the largest business of any firm in a large radius of territory.

After fifteen years of close attention to these extensive interests, Mr. Anderson disposed of a part of his establishment and placed his brother in charge of the boot and shoe department, thus placing his mercantile interests in shape to admit of his devoting personal attention to another line of business, to which his tastes naturally led him, and which was the logical outgrowth of a successful career. Accordingly, in the year 1871, he established the banking house of W. W. Anderson & Co., his partner being another one of the most capable business men of Taylorville, D. D. Shumway. The well-known carefulness and ability of the proprietors assured a substantial business, and the confidence of the public was fully accorded the new institution. The partnership as indicated continued with most pleasant relations for twelve years, when Mr. Shumway retired and Mr. Anderson's son, Hiram R., became partner with his father. He was a young man of brilliant mind, a close student, and a general favorite with friends of the bank, who rejoiced to see him advanced in responsible positions. On the 1st of November, 1886, the bank passed into its present form, being incorporated as the First National Bank of Taylorville, with a capital of $75,000. W. W. Anderson became President; A. L. Augur, of Mt. Auburn, Vice-President; and H. R. Anderson, Cashier. Its Directors were W. W. Anderson, A. L. Augur, J. G. Drennan, N. D. Ricks, Matthew Kavanaugh, John White, R. M. Powel, G. R. Sharp and H. R. Anderson. Of these, Messrs. Sharp, Powel, White and H. R. Anderson are now deceased. The present Board of Directors is composed of the following: W. W. Anderson, President; A. L. Augur, Vice-President; Mat Kavanaugh, W. M. Provine, Hiram White, J. N. C. Shumway, J. C. McBride, D. D. Shumway and F. W. Anderson. The latter is the present Cashier, and E. R. Wright is Assistant Cashier. Mr. Anderson began business on his present site in 1871, and carried on operations in his first building until 1884, when the present building was erected. The bank is supplied with a McNeale & Urban safe, with the Fowler door attachment, and the other furnishings are complete in all appointments. The First National Bank is a conservative and substantial institution, run on a perfectly safe basis, and is doing a good business, having now a capital and surplus of $100,000.

Every venture to which Mr. Anderson has devoted personal attention has prospered to an eminent degree, and his foresightedness in making investments have borne out the views that he had formerly advanced. He served for two years as President of the Board of Supervisors. He has had a firm belief in the future of Taylorville, not only as the county seat and on account of its extensive country trade, but as a coal-producing point, and soon to become a manufacturing center. He has invested largely in business property, and is now owner of one-half the frontage on the south side of the square. He has always advocated the advantages of railroad facilities, and was one of the promoters and at one time Director of the Ohio & Mississippi Railway, which passes through the county, giving a direct outlet to the East. He has always taken an interest in, and frequently furthered, legitimate means of building up his home town, and in no little degree to him is owing the present advantages the city enjoys in its excellent system of electric lighting, its water works and its ample hotel accommodations. His means, advice and energy were called upon and freely given when its extensive coal fields were developed, and thus a permanent basis of growth and prosperity was assured to the city. Prospering to an unusual degree, he has been blessed with ample means, which, unlike some moneyed men, he has liberally devoted to progressive uses. A member and Trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he has been a ready supporter of church interests. A Royal Arch Mason, he is held in high esteem by all brother Masons, though his gifts to charity are not circumscribed by any bounds of fraternal character, for he recognizes the rights and obligations that man owes to man on the broad plane of universal brotherhood. Politically, Mr. Anderson has been a life-long supporter of the Democratic party, but has preferred to devote his attention to private, rather than to public, business, and hence has never sought honors at the hands of the party.

Only four years after his marriage, Mr. Anderson was called upon to mourn the death of his companion, whose only child had died in infancy. This was a blow whose sorrow only years of business activity could mitigate. When prosperity had come to him, he again felt the need of loving words and womanly counsel, and in 1860 he made Martha L. Wright, widow of Dr. Wright, of Carlinville, his wife. She was a woman of estimable character, and proved a valuable companion and helpmate on life's journey. She, too, was taken from him after a companionship of nearly a quarter of a century, her death occurring August 2, 1884, at the age of fifty-four years. Unto them were born five children: Hiram R., who was Cashier in the First National Bank, and died September 4, 1891, at the age of twenty-nine years; Nannie West, who died in childhood; Fred W., who is now serving as Cashier; Grace E., wife of F. C. Hawley, of the Paddock-Hawley Iron Company, of St. Louis; and Julia W., a young lady of nineteen, who is now a student in the Auburndale Seminary (Lasell College), of Boston, from which she will graduate in the Class of '94.


© Judy Edwards and Genealogy Trails